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Preetam Kaushik Headshot

Office Gossip: Don't be the Fodder!

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While we're growing up, we're told many things about life. People advice us about love, our parents teach us - or, well, at least attempt to teach us - manners and as we get older, we're told about love and marriage. However, nobody ever tells us, at 13 or even 18, about dealing with jealous colleagues, feelings for your boss, which could range from outright hate to insane infatuation. I have always wondered why this is so. I mean, no one tells you, when you graduate from high-school or college, that you're now stepping into a world, one that's going to be part of your life forever and it's a landmine of jealousies, competition and gossip!

I have always been fairly naive, so when I took up my first job, I would say things as I saw them, volunteer for more work and expect my boss to be fair - all major not-to-do's at the workplace! While standing around the water cooler during my early days, I heard some colleagues bitching about the not-so-cool boss. Having experienced what I considered to be an anomaly (yeah, right!), I jumped right in and shared what I was going through with 'our' nightmare boss. You know how these things work, once you begin to get things off your chest to strangers, you just can't seem to stop. Next thing you know, the nasty boss, turns even nastier. So much so I had to start looking for another job (who am I kidding, I hated the job anyway! And, thankfully, it was a much better job market at the time.) Although, I quit the cardinal error I made as newbie, I contributed to office gossip. So my rule, for pretty much my entire career, has been - 'When new, just be part of the audience, never a participant!' Trust me, it has been one hell of a golden rule.

Another area that fuels the gossip mill, of course, is the dreaded acronym - O.R. Don't know what that is? Well, didn't I mention that nobody prepared you for office life! You know what LDR is, you know what PDA is, but you have no clue what OR stands for, do ya? Office Romance - stay away. Okay, admittedly, many love affairs have begun in the stuffy confines of office boardrooms. Many power couples have found each other in the office corridors, it may have worked for them, but trust me, months before they even admitted their feelings to each other, they must have supplied enough grist for the gossip mills to work through for months. I will make a personal confession here. It was years ago, so I can talk about it. I had a crush on a co-worker for months. Trust me, by then I was no longer the naïve newbie, Mr. loose lips. I had smartened up. Besides, the girl was dating somebody else. I decided there was no harm in having a harmless crush. But beware, the ides of office wizards whose internal signals are attuned to inappropriate romantic feelings. Before I had even confessed it to anybody, almost everybody knew I 'had a thing' for Miss.X. How did I deal with it? Well, a lot of blushing and getting through it somehow. No way was I going to let office gossip affect my career.

Lastly, let me talk about my experience at those 'joyous' occasions called office parties. Folks, trust me when I say, the free booze is not worth it! It makes you do and say foolish things, forget for a month that these are your colleagues and not 'friends' - if you know what I mean. And, god forbid, you make the most of the free booze while you happen to have a crush on someone at work! Steer clear of the booze, sip on some watered-down wine and go back home, your dignity intact.

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